Dry needling is well known for easing the pain of trigger points, those tight, painful knots that form in your muscles. When used to treat fibromyalgia, dry needling does more than relieve pain. It also improves anxiety and fatigue and helps you sleep better.
The team at Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine specializes in dry needling for fibromyalgia, often combining it with customized physical therapy that maintains your mobility, supports ongoing pain relief, and improves your quality of life.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that causes two primary symptoms: pain and tenderness all over the body and extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with sleep. The intensity of these symptoms can’t be overstated.
People with fibromyalgia struggle with daily challenges, sometimes waking in the morning in too much pain to get up and face the day. Their symptoms are often severe enough to prevent them from going to work and taking care of their family.
As if widespread body pain and debilitating fatigue aren’t enough, fibromyalgia causes or increases your risk for a host of other problems, including:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Irritable or overactive bladder
- Restless legs syndrome
- Temperature sensitivity
- Muscle cramps and trigger points
- Muscle fatigue
Fibromyalgia symptoms tend to flare up without warning. They can also begin due to stress, changes in the weather, and other triggers.
Though the exact cause of fibromyalgia has yet to be discovered, we know that it’s a nervous system problem that develops when changes in your nerves make your body hypersensitive to pain.
How dry needling improves fibromyalgia
In addition to bodywide pain and tenderness, people with fibromyalgia have muscle fatigue and cramping. As a result, they often develop trigger points, a small area of muscles that contract, form a tight knot, and fail to relax. The ongoing muscle contractions pinch nerves and blood vessels, and cause pain.
Dry needling involves inserting slender needles into the trigger point. As a result, the muscle relaxes, easing the muscle pain, releasing nerves, and restoring the flow of oxygen-rich blood.
The needle also triggers the release of endorphins, natural biochemicals that are similar to opioids. Endorphins relieve pain and stress as they travel through your body, producing an effect beyond the trigger point that helps improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
What happens during dry needling
When performing dry needling, we use the same thin, flexible needles as those used for acupuncture. The needles are quite thin (about the width of a strand of hair) because we don’t inject fluids or medications. That’s why the treatment is called “dry” needling.
You relax on the exam table in a position that allows us to easily reach the trigger point. The needle is tapered so it easily slides through your skin and into the trigger point. You may notice a slight pinch when we insert the needle, but many patients don’t feel anything.
Once the needle is in the knotted muscle, we leave it in place for a short time. We may move the needle up and down a few times or we may send a mild electrical current through the needle. These techniques make the muscle twitch, which helps restore circulation.
While the needle is in place, you may feel the muscle twitch or a slight aching sensation, but you should not feel pain. Some people feel slightly sore at the needle insertion site for a day or two. However, most experience a significant improvement in their pain.
If you struggle with fibromyalgia, it’s time to learn about dry needling. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, call Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine or use the online booking feature today.